Charles F. “Chuck” Smith was hired by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as a correctional officer for the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. A year later he was transferred to District 7 Probation and Parole in Oklahoma City and served as a probation and parole officer.
He attended classes with the Council on Law Enforcement Education & Training where he earned a certification to be a firearms instructor. He enjoyed teaching officers to safely shoot firearms. Many officers have limited experience handling firearms prior to their employment as an Oklahoma peace officer, and Smith enjoyed his role as their instructor.
Smith strived to have a positive effect and influence on the probationers and parolees who pass through his caseload. He based his interactions with offenders on the concept he had learned early on in his career: “firm but fair.”
While conducting a home visit, Smith came upon a distraught probationer whom he had been looking for because he had moved without notifying the department. The man was agitated about impending robbery charges and had inhaled fumes from a gas-soaked rag tied around his face. Upon entering his residence, Smith saw that he had doused himself and the rooms with gasoline and cut the gas line for the furnace. He repeatedly stated he wanted to die instead of going back to prison on the new robbery charges.
The residence was located across the street from a park which contained children and their parents. After Smith tried to calm the man, he notified the Midwest City Police Department and resumed conversation with the man as officers evacuated the surrounding homes. During this time, the probationer continued to pour gasoline over his head. Following a 5-hour standoff, the man surrendered to police. The Department of Corrections submitted this incident report to the American Correctional Association. In 1989, Smith was awarded the American Correctional Association and the Department of Corrections’ Medal of Valor.
In 1990, Smith transferred to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Corrections where he served as a fugitive Apprehension Agent in the newly formed Fugitive Warrants Division.
The majority of Smith’s career has been in the field chasing fugitives, and this is an area he believes he has made the most positive impact.